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Notes from #Pazarkule / #Evros, the Third Day

Pazarkule. Turkey. March 2, 2020. Yesterday we left Pazarkule around 8 pm in order to observe the situation at the Ipsala border crossing. When we were leaving the field, we noticed that the queue of the free food spot, which was finally set up, got too long with long waiting times. The food being distributed were biscuits and snacks which have no nutrition value.

Originally publiehd by GÖÇMEN DAYANIŞMASI.

While passing through Uzunkopru we saw a group of migrants waiting at a police checkpoint where the police officers were trying to convince them to get on the buses that were heading to Meric river. Shortly after, we parked our cars in a spot 5 kilometers away from Ipsala border crossing; then we had some rest for a few hours.

In the morning, we headed to Ipsala border crossing. On our way to Ipsala, we saw a couple of hundred migrants who were either heading to the border or going back. They were mostly Afghanis, but we even came across 2 Turkish citizens who want to cross the border with others gathered.

Unlike Pazarkule, there is no military presence here. The police were on high alert, and controls were tightened at the border crossing. We learned that this gate remains open for crossings to facilitate commerce and tourism, and the mayor and local governor are also here throughout the day.

Waiting around the gate was strictly prohibited for migrants here. Cops are putting a lot of pressure on migrants to get them on the bus. These buses are owned by the same company as the one we saw at Pazarkule. We confirmed it from both the police officers and bus drivers that these white buses are working under the Turkish Directorate General of Migration Management, and each bus is accompanied by at least one police officer. With these buses, migrants are being transferred to the fields and military zones along the border. 

Meanwhile, based on the information we received from our friends who witnessed the crossing attempts in the border villages yesterday, similar pressures were applied in the military fields accompanied by intelligence, gendarmerie and police. We know that the migrants are tried to be persuaded and tried to be sent among the Greek soldiers. In addition, we learn that the boats rented to some immigrants were seized by different soldiers after a certain period of time.

The ones who do not want to take the buses at the Ipsala border gate are scolded and want to take care of themselves and are immediately removed from the zone. We hear a police officer yelling to two people who do not want to get on the bus and walk back, saying, “We have been shouting since morning, we will take it for free, if you pass by yourself, they will beat you and take your money and phone back.” However, those who wish can bargain with the civilian vehicles located there and can access their desired places for a fee.

One of the points where the groups are transferred is a wedding hall in the village of Karpuzlu. This is a small building in the village; Gendarmerie units, ambulances, and Red Crescent teams are in front of there, which control the area. 

We followed the Karpuzlu-Enez road and tried to see the entire borderline. Behind the rice fields stretching along this road, we saw empty white buses turning from the zero point of the border. We guess that they leave the migrants to the determined transit points and return.

When we arrived at the town of Enez, we did not encounter any checkpoints. It is difficult to talk about the presence of migrants in the town; life continues as usual. 

Now, we decide to go to the Pazarkule border gate again after our break to write our observations. Since we are sure that we will not be able to enter the point we have been to before, we want to set up an information desk as close as possible to the control point and continue cooking soup for those who arrive at night. After observing the current situation there, we strongly remind you that we will need shifts to maintain our presence here.  

In solidarity,

No Border Pazarkule/Edirne, March 2, 2020.


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